When Patrick Sutton walks across the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, he likely doesn't inspire the thought "football player" from passersby the same way a Derrick Lott, Davis Tull or Keon Williams might.
But the redshirt junior center from Sevierville -- perhaps generously listed at 6-foot-1, 275 pounds -- is very much a football player. He is, in fact, the Mocs' only offensive player who has started every game the past two seasons.
Sutton was interning in UTC's sports information office in January when new offensive coordinator Jeff Durden was hired. As first impressions go, it may not have been the best ever.
"I was sitting at my desk and I stood up and shook his hand," Sutton recalled after Monday morning's practice at Scrappy Moore Field. "I said 'Patrick Sutton,' and he was like, 'OK.' I was like, 'I started at center last year.' He was like, 'Oh, I thought you'd be a lot bigger than that.'
"I get that a lot; I'm used to it now."
Sutton arrived at UTC as a walk-on after a short stint at Walters State Community College. Then offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield knew of him -- Sutton was an all-state player at Sevier County High School -- and recommended to head coach Russ Huesman that he be offered a walk-on spot.
"There aren't many of those 5-10, 250-pound guys getting recruited out of high school to play Division I football," Huesman said.
Sutton said he had to get his grades up after he "messed around at Walters State" just to get started in the Mocs' program. He then had to prove himself on the field. There, too, first impressions may not have been the best ever.
"When I first got here, I couldn't snap the ball and I couldn't keep my feet because everything was so fast," Sutton said. "I was very surprised at how far I came along with a year's time, just practicing and working on everything I do."
Sutton redshirted in 2010 and battled Shaun Hill, an early enrollee the previous spring, for the starting job. Sutton, who benefited tremendously from his redshirt year, won the job and has started every game since.
"For somebody with the size that he comes out here with, he's got to be perfect as far as getting the right calls down, his technique's got to be perfect, he's got to be a fighter and he's got to be smart," Huesman said. "He's all those things."
Sutton also is appreciative of the chance the Mocs gave him.
"Coach Huesman gave me the opportunity and I told him, 'You're not going to regret it.' And now I feel like it was a pretty good decision," Sutton said.
Following UTC's scrimmage Saturday, a decision was made to make a change on the offensive line. Redshirt freshman Corey Levin replaced junior two-year starter Brandon Morgan at left tackle.
"[Levin] had the best scrimmage and we're going to play the best players," Durden said, "so we bumped him up. Brandon's got to play better, as much as he's been around here, and that's what competition's all about."
After watching the scrimmage video, Durden said he liked much of what the first-team offense did. The younger guys on the second and third units have some work to do, which is expected. ... Wideout C.J. Board (knee) and running back Taharin Tyson (hip) returned to practice after sitting out the scrimmage. ... UTC will hold its Meet the Mocs fan gathering at the First Tennessee Pavilion at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by practice at Finley Stadium at 2:30.
Contact John Frierson at email@example.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him at twitter.com/MocsBeat.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...
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